Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are now passing through the area on their way south to winter homes.

The nectar of Jewelweed blossoms gives them needed fuel for the long journey. Fortunately, Jewelweed is abundant around the beaver pond.

The beaver dam itself is covered with Jewelweed and that’s where I encountered hummingbirds in late afternoon. I watched quietly as they hovered in front of the orange blossoms, sipping nectar with their long, thin bills. A couple of times, a hummingbird flew up close to me and hovered for a second as it studied me before zipping away.

Photographing a tiny, fast-moving subject in fading light was quite a challenge for my equipment and skills. The resulting photos are barely adequate to depict the scene, but I couldn’t leave them out.

The mostly-green hummers had white throats, identifying them as female Ruby-throated Hummingbirds.

I walked along the C&O Canal towpath to get a view of the marsh, located where the upper and lower water bodies connect. It is a favorite hangout for the pond’s fast-growing Wood Duck population, especially in late afternoon. Sure enough, the ducks were there.

A Great Blue Heron often appears at the beaver pond but today it was fishing at Big Pool Lake on the other side of the C&O towpath. As I watched, the heron fished along the rocky shore and eventually caught a crayfish.

Like the heron, Killdeer also frequent the beaver pond but tonight were hunting at the shallow end of Big Pool near the boat ramp.

Big Pool Lake is very different from the beaver pond. With open water and a rock-lined shore, it lacks the marsh grasses that provide a safe hiding place for baby geese and ducks. But, it’s a magnet for migrating flocks of waterfowl looking for a large body of water where all can feed and rest before continuing their journey.

As I left Fort Frederick State Park for the day, I looked out across a grassy field and saw a deer grazing. It stopped and looked at me as if to say farewell for now.



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